EPA vows to push dispersant makers after posting Corexit ingredients

U.S. EPA shed more light yesterday on its recent disclosure of once-secret complete ingredients in the oil dispersant being sprayed in the Gulf of Mexico, urging all makers of the controversial chemicals to cease shielding their components from the public.

In a statement released after a full list of chemicals in the Corexit oil dispersant was posted on the agency's website (Greenwire, June 9), EPA said it had successfully leaned on the product's manufacturer to waive its claim that the ingredients were a trade secret, a term known as "confidential business information" (CBI).

"Due to EPA's efforts, NALCO agreed to allow more of that CBI to be made public," the agency said, adding that it plans to vet all CBI claims made by dispersant producers "to determine if they are valid." Any claims found unjustified, EPA added, will leave chemical ingredients in the products subject to public release.

"EPA continues to believe that all dispersant manufacturers should voluntarily waive all CBI claims so that all information can be shared with the American public," the agency said in its statement.

Environmental and public-health advocates monitoring the Gulf oil spill had called for the release of Corexit's complete ingredients since the early days of the disaster, lamenting that some cleanup workers were stymied in seeking medical treatment because the chemicals they were exposed to remained unknown.

The exact formulas of Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 were not released by EPA, though the agency noted in its statement that the now-public information would aid "air, water, and sediment monitoring efforts."

EPA posted a combined list of ingredients in the two Corexit products -- one of which, 9527, it said was "no longer in use in the Gulf" -- without notifying Nalco Holding Co., the manufacturer, and without identifying the components of the individual dispersants. The agency's statement noted that Nalco had "waived their CBI claim to [a] combined list."

Late yesterday, Nalco posted on its website and Twitter account to clarify that Corexit 9500 did not include the ingredient 2-butoxyethanol, a hazardous chemical linked to long-term health problems experienced following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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